I wanted to highlight my favorite brewhouse installation case, completed recently in Kunming. I was approached by Humdinger Brewing, who wanted to expand their operations from their 5HL brewpub.
The asked for a help, wanting a brewer with experience on bigger systems, packaging and implementing brewing processes. Furthermore, they had a strict budget and knew what size of brewery they needed.
They brought me onboard, to help source equipment from a reliable Chinese equipment manufacturer. Then the plan was to help install it, train the team and put procedures in place for their long-term success.
The Task at Hand – Brewhouse Installation Case
My remit was clear source a 20HL semi-automatic brewhouse and assorted auxiliary equipment within a set budget. They brought me onboard as I had been brewing in China since 2010 and knew several reliable equipment suppliers.
The budget for the system they wanted was tight. I decided to reach out my network, to see if anyone had a brewhouse already in stock.
Sometimes you can get lucky, when a brewery has been ordered, but the purchase isn’t completed after fabrication. Allowing you to pick up a brewing system cheaper.
I managed to find a semi-automatic brewhouse in budget with touchscreen controls that fitted the bill. It was already in stock, needing only a little re-working to fit Humdingers needs.
What Was the Quality of the Brewhouse Like?
When I help a client source equipment, I do my due diligence. To make sure the chosen manufacturer is reliable, dependable and fabricates good kit.
It was the same for this particular system. I spoke with people in my network who’d used this particular manufacturer before; the feedback was positive.
They’d put together a bespoke 2HL system in Shanghai to fit in a 12m square room! I’ve seen this set up for myself; it’s a lovely piece of engineering. The brewer who bought the kit was a friend of mine and was happy with his purchase.
Furthermore, the manufacturer mostly produces kits for breweries overseas. I spoke with a German brewer with a 5-vessel system made by this supplier. He too, was pleased with the brewhouse he’d received and was doing 5+ brew a day on it.
All in all, I managed to find a brewhouse of the right size, at a reduced cost from a reliable supplier. Using my contacts and experience in the Chinese brewing industry.
Getting the Building Ready
Now that we had sourced a brewhouse, the next step was to prepare the building ready for the system. We worked with the manufacturer and architects to plan the layout of the brewery, in the most efficient manner.
We paid close attention to placement of utilities, for easy to access to water, steam and electricity to ensure the brewhouse operations were properly organized.
The placement for a locally sourced RO machine plus all the cellar tanks for good workflows were planned too. The plan was to make the brewing team’s life easier on a day-to-day basis.
After the equipment arrived and off-loaded. It was time to work with the installation engineers to ensure the brewhouse was set-up as planned. It took about 3 weeks for the system to come together and do some water testing.
In this time, I worked with the client to scale up the recipes from 5HL to 20HL batches. I had to account for increased efficiencies and hop utilization rates. We did the first round of brewing producing a Hefeweizen, lager, stout and pale ale in four days.
We took stock for a day, did some cleaning and then filled up the other four fermentation vessels. The client was very happy with how the first brews went, including designing a recipe for their first ever Tripel they’d brewed.
Brewhouse Installation Case – The Training
Now the brewery was up and running, it was my role to train up the team and put procedures in place. I stayed on for another two months to get everything set-up. It meant creating and implementing SOP’s (standard operating procedures) for the team to follow and be able to work from after I’d left.
I created a cloud drive, which everyone on the team could access. It contained all the relevant information. It had manuals I’d written on how to use brewhouse, recipe sheets, editable production schedules and a cellar “cheat sheet” on how to take care of the different beers Humdinger produced.
The two months went quickly and when I left, I made sure Humdinger were happy with the handover. They had all the tools they needed to continue without me and the team was happy working on the new system.
I’m still in contact with Humdinger and from time to time they reach out to ask a few questions. It’s usually to do with recipe formulation and bringing new beers online. Even when my consulting gig is officially over, I’m available to my clients if they want to chat or need assistance.
It’s not usually in an official capacity, just helping where I can. I’ve had so many people help in my brewing career, it’s nice when I can give back.
Conclusions – Brewhouse Installation Case
As I said Humdinger was one of my favorite installs. It was tough to deliver on budget. I had to use all the resources available to me, reaching out to my brewing network. It was a privilege to work with Humdinger as they expanded their operations.
They’re a brilliant team and it’s wonderful to see them making great beer. Which they now put it into cans to reach an ever-expanding customer base. Thanks for bringing me on to your brewing project Humdinger.
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Thanks for taking the time to read my article today, I hope you found it useful. Have a great day and happy brewing.